What led to the rise of the modern world? How have we made so much progress, and what are its consequences? What are humanity's best ideas? Join award-winning historian Brad Harris as he engages these fundamental questions and interprets the biggest historical forces that shape their answers, from the rise of civilization and the development of modern science to the spread of disease and the growth of globalization.
Into the Trenches Once More
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Urban Versus Rural
There’s a lot that’s dividing Americans right now - lots of divisive narratives that have captivated lots of people. One of those narratives features the apparent widening political divide between urban and rural culture. But, the truth is that the evolution of America’s urban and rural communities has always been symbiotic.
One of the best historical case studies of that symbiosis highlights the city of Chicago and the rural American west, documented by William Cronon in his award-winning book, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, published in 1991. In this episode, we reconsider the relationship between urban and rural in light of that history.
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Notes On Tribalism
"Notes on Nationalism" was an essay written by George Orwell in 1945, just as World War II was ending. It caused quite a stir at the time, but most people these days have never heard of it. Nonetheless, "Notes on Nationalism" remains one of the most powerful examples of Orwell's timeless insight into human nature; in this case, focused on our instinct to gang up on each other, our instinct for tribalism.
Orwell never used the term "tribalism" himself -- he wrote this essay a generation before that term became widespread. However, I suspect his essay was a primary factor in raising awareness of the social pathology of tribalism, and his diagnosis of the problem precisely captures the liabilities of tribalism plaguing us today.
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The Fate of Universities
Like many others, I’ve begun to worry about the fate of higher education in American society.
Having spent most of my professional life in academia, my instinct is to regard the university system as sacred - as Wisdom’s Workshop, to borrow the historian James Axtell’s recent book title.
Liberal democracy relies on a very well educated citizenry. And, modern civilization more generally relies on a significant number of us possessing hard-earned historical perspective on what is true and what is good, and hard-earned scientific perspective on the full reach of human potential.
Any threat to the university system should worry us. Today, there appear to be multiple, and the most frustrating thing of it is... those threats seem to be mostly self-imposed.
In this episode, I highlight those threats and explore the history behind the legacy of modern knowledge.
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Learn more at bradharris.com
Explaining Postmodernism: A Conversation with Stephen Hicks
In this episode, I invited the philosopher and author Stephen Hicks on the podcast to chat about his book, Explaining Postmodernism. Stephen has been a Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University in Illinois for nearly 20 years, and he's published widely on the history of philosophy, ethics, and politics.
The reason I invited Stephen on the show is because I think postmodernism planted the seeds of the illiberalism that's erupting throughout our society today, and Stephen Hicks literally wrote the book on that development. In my opinion, his insight is critical because the battle of ideas postmodern thinking provokes could very well determine the fate of liberal democracy our lifetime.
To learn more about Stephen Hicks, I encourage you to visit his website, stephenhicks.org, or follow him on Twitter.
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Learn more at https://bradharris.com
Escaping the Cycle of History
What’s that line attributed to Mark Twain?...
"History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes."
As the authors Neil Howe and William Strauss wrote in their best-selling book The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, published in 1997, “The reward of the historian is to locate patterns that recur over time and to discover the natural rhythms of social experience.”
According to the pattern they predicted, we should currently be in the midst of a great historical crisis. Are we? If so, what happens next?
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For more information visit bradharris.com
Must listen Podcast. Intelligent and carefully crafted and it’s truthful. Some reviewers here clearly got triggered from some episodes. Sometimes the truth is painful..
Needs some new episodes though, it’s been awhile!
Just discovered this podcast series a few days ago and I cannot stop listening. In this series of podcasts, Harris is using book synopses in a particular order to explain the transformation of our culture. It’s a unique approach. He’s succeeded in clarifying the angst so many of us feel about our present world. While he’s not apolitical, his position is fairly centrist and there is much that everyone can get from this series. Can’t say enough good things about it! My eyes are opened.
Top 10 podcasts. 🙌🏽
This is a must listen podcast!